Health Nutritions and
Benefits of Tomatillo
Physalis philadelphica Lam, commonly known as a tomatillo,
is a staple of the Mesoamerican cuisine. Choi JK and
co-workers from University of Illinois at Chicago extracted
isolated four withanolides [ixocarpalactone A (IxoA),
ixocarpalactone B, philadelphicalactone B, and
withaphysacarpin] and an ethyl acetate-soluble mass. They
found that ixocarpalactone A has anti-cancer activities
against human colon cancer and hepatoma cells. Thus, they
believe tomatillo may have benefits of cancer-preventive
What are tomatillos?
Tomatillos are small fruits (used as a vegetable) enclosed in
a husk. The fruit resembles a small unripe tomato and is
usually green or yellow. The yellow color indicates ripeness,
but tomatillos are most often used when they are still green.
Green tomatillos are firmer and easier to slice. The husk that
holds the fruit is paper-like and is light brown. The flesh is
slightly acidic with a hint of lemon. Tomatillos belong to the
same family as tomatoes.
The Aztecs first grew tomatillos as far back as 800 B.C. and
they have been popular in Mexico and other Latin American
countries for many years. In the US, they are mainly grown in
The condition of the husk is often a good indicator when
selecting tomatillos. If the husk is dry or shriveled then the fruit
is probably not in good condition. Select tomatillos that have
an intact, tight-fitting, light brown husk. If you peel back a small
part of the husk, the fruit should be firm and free of blemishes.
Canned tomatillos are available at specialty markets and are
often used when making sauces. Tomatillos are available
year round in supermarkets and specialty markets.
Domestically grown tomatillos are available from May through
Fresh tomatillos with the husk still intact may be stored in the
refrigerator for up to two weeks. They are best stored in a
paper bag. Tomatillos last a week longer in the refrigerator if
the husks are removed and the fruit is placed in sealed
plastic bags. Tomatillos may also be frozen after removing
The husks must be removed before preparing, but tomatillos
in the husk are often used as decoration. Wash the fruit with
soap and water to remove the film left by the husk. Tomatillos
may be used raw in salsas or salads or cooked for sauces.
Cooking enhances the flavor and softens its skin, but the
result is a soupy consistency since the fruit collapses after a
The serving size for tomatillos is 1/2 cup or 66 g. One serving
size contains 20 calories, 5 calories from fat, 0.5 g of total fat,
0 g of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 0 mg of sodium, 4 g
of total carbohydrate, 1 g of dietary fiber, 3 g of sugars, 1 g of
protein, 2% daily value of vitamin A, 15% daily value of
vitamin C and 2% of iron. The percent daily values are based
on a 2000 calorie diet.
 Choi JK, Ixocarpalactone A isolated from the Mexican tomatillo shows
potent antiproliferative and apoptotic activity in colon cancer cells. FEBS J.
2006 Dec;273(24):5714-23. SOURCE CDC.gov.
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